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Bike-friendly: Paso to pursue designation

Modified: Friday, Aug 24th, 2012

Steve and Carol Fleury are the owners of Best Bike Zone. Photo by Josh Petray.

PASO ROBLES -- Paso Robles could be San Luis Obispo County's next official bicycle-friendly community under a designation awarded by the League of American Bicyclists.

On Tuesday, the Paso Robles City Council voted unanimously to agree to pursue the designation for the city, a request made by local cycling enthusiast and Best Bike Zone owner Steve Fleury, who's managed to gain the support of several local entities. The San Luis Obispo Bicycle Coalition is one of them who strongly supports the idea.

"Thank you for the work you're doing so far, the passion exhibited by Mr. Fleury and your bike community," said Dan Rivoire, executive director of the bike coalition. "Furthermore, we think it's a great idea that you approve the formation of a bicycle advisory committee." Rivoire said the proposal was a "no-brainer" and that it would demonstrate that Paso Robles is an "active, family-friendly destination."

No new bicycle committee will be formed, however, to report back to the council on progress made in gaining the designation and provide input on items of interest to the cycling community, nor will significant staff time be expended in the process, according to informal direction provided by the Paso Robles City Council during its regular meeting this week.

According to its website www.bikeleague.org, the program "provides incentives, hands-on assistance, and award recognition for communities, universities and businesses that actively support bicycling, and ranks states annually based on their level of bike-friendliness."

The city of San Luis Obispo is currently the only other city in San Luis Obispo County to have the designation.

The proposal has garnered the support of several local entities including the Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee. Mike Milby of Paso Robles is one of the hundreds that has really enjoyed being involved in the endeavor. Stephen King of Paso Robles said he supports the action that the city pursue the bicycle friendly designation.

"It is an activity that ties into many other activities in our lives; it's already part of our culture, and I think we need to recognize it as an important part of our culture," King said.

Fleury – who has been before the council on prior occasions speaking about the item – said that he thinks it's a "small piece of the puzzle to make us a better community."

"That's all I'm trying to do," Fleury said. "I would be happy to start the wheels rolling on a bicycle advisory committee, whatever procedures are needed to do that, and I do see this as an educational opportunity as well as something that will help tourism." Fleury said he looked forward to bringing more bicycle education into the schools, as well as helping alleviate traffic in the school zones by promoting bicycling.

City Councilman Nick Gilman said he was excited about the designation but joked that "I look at the streets and wonder: How bicycle-friendly are we?" referring to deteriorated streets.

Although he championed the designation, Gilman cautioned against formation of a Paso Robles Bicycle Advisory Committee.

"I'm not anxious at establishing another formal committee with bylaws that I have seen…and the Brown Act," Gilman said.

Gilman suggested establishment of an informal body.

Ultimately, the council directed city staff to liaison with a member of the bicycle community on the project.

City Planner Susan DeCarli said she would step up to the opportunity.

"Staff time is expected to be minimal," DeCarli said to the council.

Mayor Duane Picanco said candidly that he concurred with Gilman's comments about the formality of the advisory committee and that "quite candidly I received some negative comments about cyclists when they come into the city, particularly Memorial Day weekend, they tend to intrude into the automotive lanes," he said. "It's unfortunate, but if there's a way to try to continue to educate…"

Fleury said the new designation would provide future educational opportunities.

For the complete article see the 08-24-2012 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 08-24-2012 paper.

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